Getting Your First Job After Graduation

by | Sep 11, 2013

I arrived at Malcolm’s house in Sunnyvale, California, by bike, in early March 2011. I had a bad cough and was saddle-sore from riding down from San Francisco on bumpy residential roads (I didn’t know about the bike route at the time).

He made dinner, cracked a bottle of wine, and chatted for a couple of hours about what it was like to graduate with an engineering degree from an Ivy League university and be recruited by Apple months before graduation.

When I graduated from my community college’s Computer Systems Tech program, I had a suspicion that my job search wouldn’t be as painless as Malcolm’s.

In March 2013, I began sending out resumes. I chose jobs I was fully qualified for according to the posted job descriptions, and companies that do interesting stuff: embedded systems, Java and C programming, tech support, or web development in PHP or C#.

AbeBooks, Uvic tech department, BC Hydro, KanoApps, a few different government jobs, a few different web development companies, the Australian company that makes my hearing aids, Tesla Motors (why not), Eecol Electric, Vivitro (They make artifical hearts), Genologics, Strategic Wildfire, some company that does a lot of Java development and another that does a lot of embedded systems, neither of which I can recall the names of now, and a bunch of different oil and mining companies. None of them called me back.

I learned that spamming the whole internet doesn’t work.

Some of my classmates began to report the job offers or interviews they had received or accepted. The strugglers grew increasingly hopeless. I felt caught between the two, as I planned to move to Australia after school ended, and was job hunting halfheartedly as a result.

I learned that half-assing it doesn’t work.

School ended and Australia didn’t work out, so I got serious. I collected business cards at my class’s final symposium, and called all of them, repeatedly, asking people out for coffee and chats. I got on LinkedIn and added everyone I could think of, then started on random celebrities and politicians. I was offered a few interviews.

ITI Canada

My dad made friends with the president of this company, John Sherrah, at the symposium, and got his card. I visited John at his office and spoke on the phone a few times; he did his best to hook me up with a job, but he couldn’t hire me himself and none of the potential jobs worked out

The office of the Ombudsperson

They gave me a sheet of paper with a couple of good questions on it, and half an hour to write my answers. I am an excellent writer and presented myself very well. The interview could not have gone better from my point of view, but as I left the building I knew they wouldn’t hire me. They asked too many questions.

Edoc Group

They make management software for marine fleets. It was the most interesting company of all those I interviewed or applied for. John Harley had coffee with me in Bastion Square and we had a great chat. That was enough to get me a technical interview with his C# development team, which I failed miserably due to lack of C# knowledge. Again, they asked me too many questions.

Atomic Crayon

These guys couldn’t be bothered to meet me in person, even though they were right downtown. I failed the phone interview, partly due to being really bad at phones, but mainly due, again, to total lack of C# knowledge.

I learned that if they want to know your “biggest weakness” or “a time when you provided excellent customer service”, they’re probably wasting your time.


I gave up. I needed a job, any job, to pay the rent. My last thousand dollars was about to evaporate and I was taking handouts from my parents. My friend Darryl is a technician at Hyundai. He mentioned the opening on Facebook and talked me up. Our local Hyundai dealership has massive turnover, and I washed cars for 2 years before going to college. It was the worst letdown to go back to that, but they interviewed and hired me on the spot. They paid me a living wage and the work was physically demanding but well within my ability. Sadly, I settled in to the idea of another year washing cars. Within a day I knew I would get depressed if I didn’t use my off hours well, so I started building bicycles at Recyclistas in the evenings. And three days into the job, I broke my elbow playing polo. So I never did work there full time – I was at 2-3 days a week the whole time, and used the excuse of a broken elbow to spend the other days at the bike shop, wrenching on bikes slowly with my one arm.

I learned that only experience works.


So that was why I had the day off to go interview at NeverBlue Media when they called me. I knew I had the job when I walked in – they needed someone with tech support experience, which I had, and they asked very few questions. Instead, the man I spoke with spent the bulk of our half hour telling me about the company – selling me on it.

I learned that the companies that want you hire you right away and try to make you feel welcome.

But when I got home from that interview there was another offer in my inbox, from Radar Hill. I had interviewed them in 2012, but they wanted someone who was done school. Now that I was done, there was the offer. No fooling around. I accepted, gave up my contract work and gave 2 other companies the push.

I learned that I’m done with this job search BS.

Sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring like a chump. Waiting for someone who doesn’t know you or care about you to give you permission to work for their benefit and let you have enough cash to live for another month. Radar Hill is a great outfit but I can’t imagine that I’ll stay here longer than a couple years. If the next job doesn’t fall into my lap, I’m not sending out a million stupid resumes and praying again. I’m doing my own business, and I’m going to start working on it today.